(CNN) -- For generations, princesses in Walt Disney Co. films have captured the hearts of little girls dreaming of living happily ever after. In the past few years, fairytales' leading ladies have become increasingly diverse, and the Walt Disney Co. recently announced that Princess Maddy would be the studio's first black princess.
CNN.com asked readers if they think it's important for little girls to be able to look up to a princess who looks like them. Below is a selection of their responses, some of which have been edited for length and clarity. (See your little princesses in our gallery, and watch our audio slide show.)
Felicia King of Vallejo, California
You're kidding, right? Of course it's important! My daughter is 7 years old, and even though Aladdin was not her favorite princess cartoon, she leans towards Jasmine more because she resembles her more (her true favorite is Cinderella -- she likes her story more). I never mentioned anything to her about identifying with a princess that looked more like her. She did that all on her own. To me that shows a great deal of importance and I thank Disney for it. I truly appreciate their efforts and recognizing the importance of it and bringing it forward. I, my daughter, my mom, my sister and her kids will all be there on opening day with bells on. We have already planned it. It will be a special day for myself as well as my daughter. I grew up on Disney, too.
Julius L. S. Penn of Fort Mill, South Carolina
Why not have a black prince?
Tiffany Rush-Wilson of Toronto, Ontario
I am pleased to read about Maddy. My daughter, an African-American girl living in Canada, will benefit from seeing a diverse representation of princesses, including those who look like her. I feel encouraged to reconsider my apprehension about allowing her exposure to Disney princesses.
Phyllis Leopold of Milford, Michigan
They might just be cartoons, but I'm disturbed by the princessification of American girls. Teaching them that they're all princesses and that they're destined for a perfect life with a perfect prince in a perfect world is setting them up for the crushing of those dreams when they realize that they're not princesses, and that they'll achieve nothing in this world without hard work. Every one of Disney's princesses -- from Snow White to Ariel -- has never lifted a finger to make their dreams come true. Everything they desired was given them by a fairy godmother or their royal parents or a bunch of singing animals. I'm afraid it creates a sense of entitlement that girls might carry into adulthood -- the "What have you done for me lately?" attitude. Girls, no one owes you anything. You owe yourself. Make yourself a princess by achieving your own dreams. Then that thing on your head won't just be a tiara, it will be a CROWN.
Sherita Williams of Providence, Rhode Island
Yes, I think it is good for little girls to be able to identify with someone who looks like them. It gives you a sense of pride to see someone in a movie who looks like you. Why shouldn't Disney portray many characters in many different colors? This is America. America is not all white, so there should not only be white princesses to represent for little girls. It will be good for little black, white and Asian girls, and girls of all ethnicities, to see someone of a different race other than a white princess portrayed as beautiful, elegant and stunning. Disney is on the right track with this one. I only wish that when I was a little girl there was a character with brown skin like mine to look up to in the Disney movies. Then I would have been able to say, "Mommy, she looks just like me."
Emanuelle Lowery of Augusta, Georgia
I think it is great and about time that there is a black leading character in a Disney animation. It does seem like there has been anything but, including other cultures in leading roles such as Pocahontas (Native American), Mulan (Asian) and of course European or white. So, finally having that is a big step in the fairytale world, considering the diverse backgrounds of little girls and boys watching Disney movies. However, I do think that there should be an animated film that promotes the awareness of little kids toward different cultures or nationalities within the black race also. For example, a film geared towards an African, Brazilian, or Caribbean hero?
DeMarcus Davis of Oakland, California
Does it really matter if this Disney princess is black, white, Native American, Asian or Latina? Whatever happened to reviewing if a film is any good based on the story, dialogue and/or action? After all, this is just an animated film. How is this newsworthy in the first place? There wasn't nearly as much press when Mulan, Pocahontas or Aladdin were released, so why should this be any different?
Samuel Winter of New York
Disney's attempt at ethnic diversity is still tainted with prejudice. Why does it have to be "The Frog Princess"? Frogs have the connotation of being slimy, vile creatures. Disney's other mythical princesses have been beautiful, even when not wholly human. Take for example Ariel, the Little Mermaid. Mermaids were considered highly sought-after beings in ancient cultures. Then there's "Sleeping Beauty," "Snow White" and "Beauty and the Beast." All pure, white, beautiful. This new princess is a frog princess. And Randy Newman (an old white guy) doing the songs? Where's the rest of the diversity? Get a little soul and keep trying Disney, and maybe you'll get it right one day.
Sally Kidwell of Hilliard, Ohio
I have nothing but praise for Disney's new princess. Especially if she is not stereotyped and is shown to be beautiful in character as well as looks. I hope they don't stop with just one.
My granddaughter is biracial and it is difficult finding dolls that she can identify with directly. Since she is self-conscious about her hair, it seems cruel to give her a blonde, blue-eyed Barbie. So I don't. Our culture prizes youth and beauty. That's just the way it is, like it or not. The narrow definition of beauty that comes out of Hollywood, TV and toy stores contributes to some girls' perception that they are simply not pretty enough. Kudos to Disney for making this step forward.
Jill Darrow of Colorado Springs, Colorado
I think that all of Disney's princesses thus far have be anglicized to have a more widespread appeal. Since Disney has interests worldwide, they should broaden their appeal, not only to various races, but also to various shapes and sizes. Notice all of the princess' have a two-inch waist and are just short enough to be categorized as demure and subservient. I know that little girls like to dream in perfection (I have four daughters of my own), but I think Disney's view of perfection is a bit "Stepford" princess-ish. I think a giant company such as Disney could do some more humanizing of their characters without feeling much, if any, of a backlash. And if Disney did it, more would follow in their mouse-shaped footprints.
Lynn Morley of Depew, New York
I think it's a great idea. Why shouldn't every little girl be able to see a princess they can relate to! As a society, we are doing it with everything -- Barbie, Santa and Jesus -- so why not a princess from Disney?
Anita Lohinecz of Newark, Delaware
True, this image is needed for young children, both boys and girls today. I just hope that the image does not become an icon directed only at the African American community, but rather all women of color. There is so much diversity within races that to target one ethnicity would be tragic.
Sarah Madison of Boston, Massachusetts
This is wonderful news. Why did we wait so long for this?
Sherry Richards of San Diego, California
1. It's about time, but I'm thrilled Disney did it.
2. The movie should have been introduced the same way any Disney movie was introduced, without making it a big deal that Maddy is a black princess. When Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty were re-released, it wasn't announced as Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty being white. People can see that Maddy is black when the promo runs on TV or the film is advertised in the print media.
Shannon Thayer of Boonville, New York
Commenting on media influence and the children's challenge to form an opinion of their own, are they really? I think [the princess] is gorgeous, as Disney princesses always are, and it's about time.
My daughter, who is in first grade, saw me reading the article, looked at the picture and said, "Mommy, she is beautiful!" Then she read the headline and said, "Disney's first black princess." We wonder where the influence comes from these days. Had she not read that, she would have just said that she was beautiful. -- The End.
Chessy Harris of Ashland, Kentucky
I personally think it is wonderful. It will show young girls that all things are possible if you believe in them. We need to let the kids of today know that it should be more about the person inside, not about the color of our skin or what we look like. It is what is on the inside that counts. Too many people have an image of what a person needs to look like in order to be somebody. I think all people should be treated with respect no matter who they are or where they come from, or what they look like. If everybody had a choice, we would all be pretty and rich, but God makes us all special and we should treat each other with love and kindness. If we were all blind there would be no color. Color is what makes this world so beautiful. It's about time we enjoy all the beauty of all that God has blessed us with.
Vivian Rebstock of De Soto, Missouri
I think the princess looks great, but she should have a black Prince Charming. Also, when you see the other princess movies you don't see them ever wearing anything else but the same thing. I think she should have different-colored dresses that match her skin tone like lavender or even light brown. Every princess also has the same hairdo. I think you should show Princess Maddy with different hairstyles but not so much like Star Wars Princess Amidala. Make her have the courage and boldness of Mulan, the kindness of Snow White, the imagination of Princess Jasmine and the hope of Ariel, but always make her stand out as herself. Disney goes to the heart of every little kid and captures things that bring back so many different memories. I'm so eager to see how it turns out. Good Luck!
Michelle Johnson of Huntington, West Virginia
Even though I am a 23-year-old college student, I am very excited about this movie! As an African-American girl growing up in southern West Virginia, I know what it feels like to not fit into the blue-eyed, blonde-haired princess mold. I feel that this movie has been a long time coming. It will show young girls that their black skin is beautiful too. You would be surprised at the amount of messages a girl can see and hear everyday to make her think that it's not.
Jose Barbosa of Seattle, Washington
How about a Latina princess? We are the largest minority, are we not?
Deanna Williamson of Sugar Hill, Georgia
I think that it is about time. Beauty comes in all colors. Children and adults alike should be able to appreciate that. My daughter is 6 months old, and she is beautiful and black. My mother nicknamed her Princess. She will have a collection of all the princesses, including the Arabian princess, Jasmine. Just one question, why was she named Maddy? That name is ugly. How about Princess Amara! I like that better.